Friday, October 9, 2015

Is HauteLook cheaper than Nordstrom Rack?

Disclosure: Referral link.
In case you weren't aware, Nordstrom owns HauteLook, and the Nordstrom Rack and HauteLook websites are linked. So I was curious: when a brand that is ordinarily available on the Nordstrom Rack site appears on HauteLook (i.e. for a limited time, since HauteLook flash sales are up for only a few days), is the HauteLook price cheaper than the regular Nordstrom Rack discount? Born shoes, which is one of my favorite brands, is on HL today. NR always has Born in their shoe section, so yesterday I checked out the prices. I made a note of the prices of two ankle boots that I liked: "Lyra" for $59.97 and "Anissa" for $79.97.

Today, the same shoes that were listed on NR are available on HL (and gone from the NR site). The prices on HL are the same as they were on NR yesterday. So the moral of the story is: if you see something you want on the Nordstrom Rack site, there's probably no point waiting for it to come up on HauteLook. The price will most likely be the same.

I hope that makes sense. I wanted to figure it out for myself, so I figured I might as well share.

Unfortunately, NR doesn't have beauty products on its website, or I wouldn't have to use HL at all.

(Note: I'm not sure that the prices in store at Nordstrom Rack are necessarily the same as on their website. Does anyone know?)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Free shipping to Canada from Anthropologie (no minimum)

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
I know from trying to buy gifts online for my family in Canada that the shipping costs are often killer, so I thought I'd point out to the Canadians reading here that you can get free shipping from Anthropologie for the next 3 days with no minimum purchase required. Use code SHOPSTYLECA. Personally, I'd look at the sale section (since I can't afford anything else they sell.)

Monday, October 5, 2015

All L'Oreal Target Beauty Box $5 + free shipping

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
This box doesn't look the most exciting to me (mini hairspray, mascara, shampoo and skincare packets), but if there's more than one thing in it that you want to try, it might be worth it for $5. The value is $16, apparently. Anyone planning to get this one?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Quick question: Do you believe in eye cream?

I've been thinking about eye cream since I saw that Paula's Choice recently started to sell one. I'm seriously side-eyeing that. I've been reading Paula Begoun's recommendations for well over a decade, and one of the things she's always emphasized is that eye creams are a waste of money and a marketing gimmick. That is, they're just moisturizers in a smaller package at a higher price, and your eye skin is made out of the same shit as the rest of your face, even if it's a little thinner, so it doesn't need different ingredients. And now her company is selling eye cream. I understand that she will sometimes change her views with new evidence, as all reasonable people should, but I seriously fucking doubt that there has been any revolutionary evidence showing that eye creams are, it turns out, not just moisturizers in smaller tubes. I think that as her company gets bigger, she's started to let them formulate products based on consumer demand, rather than focusing on educating and not selling products that conflict with the principles she's promoted all along.

For a long time, I was strictly anti-eye cream, for the above reasons. And I still believe those things to be true - all you have to do is compare the ingredients and formulas of various eye creams and moisturizers. I have, however, tended to become more moderate over time, as many of us do. I can imagine some reasons why people might spend extra money for an eye cream. The main reason, other than just being fucking inundated by marketing telling you it's necessary, is that you might have sensitive eyes and want a product that presumably has been formulated to be gentle on the eyes. I think you're still better off just using a gentle moisturizer with good ingredients in it, because it will work just as well and cost you way less. If you think your eye area needs something richer than the rest of your face, there are lots of rich moisturizers out there. I've tried eye creams and didn't notice any different results than what I've got from moisturizers. But it's your call.

I know my opinions are not universal, and I am open to hearing why I'm wrong. So what are your views on this riveting topic? Are you pro- or anti-eye cream? Scam? Or vital element of a skincare routine? Any other beauty conspiracy theories you want to talk about? (We already know what I think about diversion of salon products.)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Poof! Review of Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

Disclosure: Affiliate links.
I'm a big user of dry shampoo, since I have oily-yet-dry hair. If I can go a day without washing it, I will, to prevent the lengths from drying it out any more than necessary. But the roots get greasy quickly, so dry shampoo is absolutely necessary if I want to go more than 24 hours between washes. In fact, even if I wash my hair before bed, I usually need a little dry shampoo to get me through the next day without my hair going limp and stringy. In a pinch, corn starch works just fine. But sprays are usually easier and quicker to use, so I've tried (and reviewed) a lot of them in an attempt to identify my favorite one.

And I think I have found the best one! Only it's not the product I'm reviewing here. It's Batiste Dry Shampoo in Cherry, which costs about $8. The many other fragrances of Batiste presumably work just as well, but this is my favorite scent. I went through two cans last fall and winter and didn't have time to write up a proper review (just a quick one on Instagram). When I replace it, I will review it, finally.

In the meantime, I've been using Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk. Like many of the other pricier products I've reviewed here during the last year, I wouldn't have tried this if I hadn't been able to use Birchbox points to buy it. Even so, I got it in a Birchbox sale, so I didn't have to spend a full $20 worth of points on it. Klorane always pops up when people talk about their favorite dry shampoos, so I wanted to see if it was somehow better than the cheaper ones I've used. I've fallen into that trap before. It's not. But it does have some good qualities.

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk

One of the most interesting things about this dry shampoo is the packaging. It's not an aerosol can. It's a flexible plastic bottle that you squeeze to send a poof of powder out of the nozzle. It works pretty well, although of course you can't get a continuous spray like you can with an aerosol, so you tend to end up with powder concentrated in certain spots. But non-aerosol dry shampoos seem to last a lot longer than aerosols. I just finished the Oscar Blandi powder reviewed here last week, and I've been alternating this Klorane with that since at least last December, and I think it's still about half full. (It also comes in a regular aerosol can.)

Thursday, October 1, 2015

In case you're wondering what the big fuss about Lime Crime is (from Racked)

Here's a thorough (and fascinating) explanation. So much drama!

The article also has some good information about how the beauty industry works, such as that mainstream and even prestige companies do not manufacture many of their products in house; rather, various brands order products from the same few factories and put their own labels on them (more on that here).

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Deals today: Becca on HauteLook (up to 70% off), free Urban Decay gloss sample, Ulta sales on Revlon and China Glaze, and double 20% off BareMinerals

Disclosure: Affiliate/referral links.
Here are some deals for today. BECCA Cosmetics is on HauteLook today, with a variety of things on sale for up to 70% off. Stila is still there too. You need an account to browse HauteLook, so here's my invite link, if you'd like to use it.

Free deluxe sample of Urban Decay lip gloss with $1 breast cancer donation at Ulta: add this lip gloss to your basket, then add the $1 donation, and it should ship for free. The gloss was out of stock earlier today, but then reappeared, so hopefully you can get one. You can also add the packet of additional free samples to your order when you check out. Ulta also has 40% off Revlon and buy 1 get 1 free on China Glaze. Use the code 308310 to get $3.50 off a $10+ order. Shipping is free on orders $25+.

Also, Nouveau Cheap has posted about a BareMinerals deal where you can use two 20% off codes on the same order. Details on her blog here.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Serious Retinol: Review of Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment (with before and after photos)

Disclosure: Affiliate/referral links.
Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
When Paula's Choice initially came out with their Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment, I wasn't especially interested. I'd worked through two very generously-sized bottles of their retinol serum (reviewed here) without seeing any clear results at all. But then I read Lab Muffin's review of the new retinol treatment, and I decided to add a sample, in a 0.16 oz. pump bottle, to my next order. Cheap as I am, I was particularly interested in the value breakdown Lab Muffin provides, showing that this product is really competitively priced, at least in Australia. As I understand it, cosmetics are really fucking expensive in Australia, but her price analysis seems promising anyway. Unfortunately, I am not mathematically inclined, so I haven't calculated a similar comparison among U.S. products (but if you are, and you want to share, that would be really exciting). The price of the full-size bottle is $55, which is not exactly cheap, so it's nice to feel like I'm spending my money relatively wisely. Especially since it turns out that I really like this stuff, and I want to keep buying it. Though it's mainly marketed as anti-aging, I'd also recommend this stuff if you have problems with clogged pores and/or breakouts, like I do. (More on how to save some money on it at the end of the post.)

I do suggest trying the sample size if you think this might work for you, because I got 4-5 weeks of use out of it. Since you only use a "pea-sized" amount each time, and you have to gradually increase the frequency of use, the sample contains more than enough to decide if it's right for you. You can see the main claims Paula's Choice makes about this product's purpose on the bottle above, i.e. to improve skin's firmness, smooth wrinkles/lines, reduce dark spots, and refine pores.

Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
One pump of Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
During my initial testing period, I used the retinol treatment 2-4 times a week, as I adjusted to it and tried to determine what my skin could tolerate. I'm glad I read the Lab Muffin review first, because that meant I knew to expect peeling. And holy shit, the peeling. It's not painful, red peeling or anything, but I did lightly molt for the first few weeks I tested it. The peeling doesn't start immediately, at least for me - it would show up, reliably, 36-48 hours after I used the retinol. It can be controlled with lots of moisturizing, but unless your skin is super tough, do expect peeling. I recommend going slow when you start. Use only a small amount the first several times, or mix it half and half with moisturizer. That's what I did the second time around, after I got a full bottle and started the process over again, and the peeling was much less dramatic.

Another side effect that I noticed was that it seems to make my skin more sensitive to other products that I usually don't react to. Nothing major, but I sometimes notice a slight burning sensation when using my regular moisturizer or even things like liquid highlighters. Odd.

Anyway, results! I liked what was happening to my skin while I used this, but I wanted to be sure it was really the result of the retinol and not just a coincidence or something. I tend to be paranoid and to have a bad memory, which makes testing skincare products a pain in the ass. Luckily (?), the disruption of moving (twice), traveling, and housesitting in August interrupted my usual skin care routine and allowed me to sort things out. I packed up both this retinol treatment and the Paula's Choice 2% BHA liquid (also reviewed here) that I have been using for years, and I didn't have access to either of them for a couple of weeks. That, combined with stress, meant that my skin gave me a big old fuck you, and I ended up with a mess to straighten out.

I broke out really bad, I had seriously clogged pores, and my skin looked dull and just generally shitty. I started back in with just the BHA liquid for a week or two, and things improved noticeably. Definitely fewer blackhead and congestion. So, okay good, I haven't been wasting my money on that stuff all this time. Then I cracked open my new, big bottle of 1% retinol and an even greater improvement was noticeable immediately.

I don't really like using vague language like "brighter skin," or "radiant," or "luminous," or whatever, because I feel like a slippery ad man. What exactly do those adjectives really mean? They seem accurate, to some extent, for the results I get from this retinol treatment, but I'm going to try to be more specific. I think the main thing it does for my skin is keep my pores clearer than they would otherwise be, which in turn makes them appear smaller. Smaller pores make my skin, overall, look smoother, and that is the main thing that gives it a "radiant" appearance. For me, "refining pores" is the claim by Paula's Choice that I can really see when I use this.

I still get hormonal breakouts on my chin, but with this product they clear up more quickly and are less intense overall. When I stopped using it, those cystic zits came back with a vengeance and would not fuck off until I went back on the retinol. I'm not sure about overall firmness, but I don't (yet) have a lot of sag in my skin that I'm concerned about. I don't have many dark spots, but my freckles haven't really diminished, which is fine with me. I didn't think it was doing anything for lines until I looked at the following photos side by side. The first one is from May 2015, about 6 weeks before I started testing this retinol treatment, and the second is from the end of July, right as I was finishing up the sample. (I started to use it again toward the end of August.)

Before and after using Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment for a month
Before and after using Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment for a month
It's hard to replicate lighting conditions exactly when taking photos like this months apart, and so the lighting is a bit harsher (at a more oblique angle) in the before photo. But I examined several different before and after photos taken on these same dates, and the comparison here is accurate. I think it's clear that I haven't added a filter or anything to the after photo, and I'm not wearing makeup (or anything but moisturizer) in either one. You can see that I still have a bit of hormonal chin acne and any freckles I had are still there in the after photo. The overall texture of my skin, however, is smoother, and that smile line between my mouth and nose is still there, but maybe slightly diminished. These subtle improvements add up to my skin generally just looking better.

In my current regimen, I use the Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment every third day, because that allows me to combine it with BHA liquid for optimal exfoliation with minimal peeling. You are not supposed to use BHA or AHA exfoliants at the same time as this retinol. So my routine goes something like this:

Day 1: one pump of retinol treatment in the evening on my entire face, except the eye area, since you're supposed to keep it away from there. I use a separate moisturizer around my eyes. I may or may not add extra moisturizer to the retinol, but it already contains things like glycerin and emollients, so it's usually moisturizing enough on its own for my combination-oily skin.

Day 2: light moisturizer and/or hydrating serum in the morning and evening. I find that using something with hyaluronic acid works well to prevent peeling. The Paula's Choice Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (reviewed here) worked - though I ran out a week ago and have been adding Paula's Choice Hyaluronic Acid Booster to my regular Moisture Gel since then (also reviewed here - yes, I seem to be a Paula's Choice fangirl, but you already knew that).

Day 3: BHA liquid in the morning or evening, whenever I remember.

Day 4: return to Day 1 (and I use the same moisturizer as Day 2 on Days 1 and 3 as well, as needed).

My skin is looking good with this routine. It's not perfect - I still get the occasional blackhead or pimple, and I still have human skin with pores. But I'm getting a lot of good things from the combination; besides the retinol, there's vitamin C and peptides in the treatment, and then there is the BHA and the antioxidants and everything else in the other products. I'm not hating my face at the moment. My skin is the best it has been in quite some time.

So. I'm recommending something that costs $55. Maybe you have health insurance that covers other retinoids, and that is a more affordable route to go for this kind of thing. I don't, and if you don't either (or you want to try something a bit gentler), here are some options for buying it. I usually get things directly from the Paula's Choice website, because they have frequent sales and free shipping deals. Right now they have 20% any one item and free shipping on $50+. Soon they will probably have a sale on all of their "Clinical" products or all of their retinol products or something, and it will probably be 15-20% off. If you don't already have a Paula's Choice account, you can also get $10 off your first $15+ order by using someone's invite link (here's mine).

Another option, if you've already used your $10-off, is to buy Paula's Choice stuff from the Nordstrom website. Here's the 1% retinol. This is a good way to go if there isn't an appealing sale on the Paula's Choice site, because Nordstrom always has free shipping and free returns. You can also collect your rewards points, if that's a thing you do. Nordstrom doesn't have the sample size, however, which you can only get here from Paula's Choice, and I really recommend trying that out first. Either way, you should also shop through Ebates and get at least 3% cash back from Nordstrom or 5% from Paula's Choice (here's my previous post about Ebates in case you're not familiar). I think that about covers it as far as saving money on this shit goes.

Have you used retinol? Does it work for you? I assumed it didn't do anything for me, but it looks like I needed a higher concentration than I had tried in the past in order to get results.